Saskatchewan is rich in agriculture, natural resources, technology and human capital leading to a diversified economy and economic growth. However, another type of diversity, cultural diversity, also leads to economic growth. Cultural diversity is a place’s openness to different cultures and ethnicities. Saskatchewan has experienced a significant demographic shift in population including the trend of being a more culturally diverse population. In 2015 alone, Saskatchewan welcomed 11,256 new residents as a result of international migration. This is good for both economic growth and enhancing the vitality of our communities.
A growing number of reports indicate cultural diversity enables a community to be stronger and compete on a larger scale in the global economy in which we live in. People from diverse backgrounds bring language skills, new ways of thinking, innovative ideas and creative solutions to difficult problems.
In Australia, SGS Economics and Planning Pty Ltd conducted an in-depth study to the economic benefits of cultural diversity and how it works through the economy to benefit tourism, education, innovation and global linkages in addition to adding to a community of vibrancy, resilience and adaptability. Where there is more cultural diversity, there is more events representative of the population. A city hosting cultural events and festivals are successful drivers for tourism to cities, increasing visitation and visitor spend. From an education perspective, cultural diversity in a community also provides a competitive advantage in appealing to and attracting international students resulting in growth of the education sector (there are also many tertiary benefits increased cultural diversity in students as it leads to increased understanding, enhanced critical thinking and greater student satisfaction). The study also indicated that a diverse workforce would lead to different skills and mindsets, increased understanding and knowledge, which in turn lead to business, technological and cultural innovation. In addition, global linkages increase as culturally diverse staff, particularly migrant workers, may have international connections aiding the flow of labour, goods and services. Lastly, the hospitality and food industry also benefit as cultural diversity leads to increased cuisines and dining options. We certainly have experienced this here in Regina as there is a wide variety of restaurants to choose from.
At a more local level, the Bringing Vitality to Main Street report from the United States shows that immigrants are more likely to have a small business such as grocery stores, restaurants, clothing stores and other enterprises which lead to neighbourhood growth and vitality. In Canada, Stats Can reports a higher percent of those self-employed are immigrants versus Canadian-born. These small businesses play a critical role in creating attractive neighbourhoods to work and live in, as well as contribute to the tax base.
Overall, there are many benefits to cultural diversity. It is important for Regina to continue to welcome and embrace new residents from all backgrounds and areas of the world to help keep Regina growing prosperously and with vibrancy.
Regina still has lots of room to grow. It is important to reinforce smart growth of the city, to ensure there is a diverse and affordable mix of housing available to new comers and potential residents.